Monday, 22 April 2013
watching the waterside wilderness of mirrors
In Westminster for a meeting today, although the gaps around it gave me time for a stroll along the south side of the Thames.
I was in that area often used in movies and TV series, that scene when spies or politicians need to meet to discuss something in private.
In US movies it is often 'The Mall/Washington Memorial/Lincoln Memorial'; for UK ones it's 'the south side of the Thames between SIS, Lambeth Palace and Westminster Bridge'.
The SIS building is quite well known, not just for its Lego-like construction, but because it's the home of the Security Intelligence Service (SI6 née MI6). It often gets a blue tinge treatment in spook shows. In practice this stretch of river may not be the best place for spies or politicians to meet, because the big spy building is just a few minutes away from Parliament.
The whole strip of the south bank from Vauxhall towards Battersea is undergoing a diplomatic makeover now, ahead of the Americans moving their London embassy from Grosvenor Square to the planned shiny silver cube Sarf of the River. Even faster than the construction of the new embassy buildings, Nine Elms is seeing emerging tower blocks of riverside residences as the dusty area becomes prime real estate.
So I guess we'll be seeing plenty more movies with spies, politicians and diplomats, cast along this familiar stretch of the river.